Barrymore, Jodie Marsh and Maggot from Goldie Lookin' Chain. Perhaps
the most surprising entrant in this year's Celebrity Big Brother
house was politician George Galloway. With politicians being more
detached from reality than ever before it was a maverick move
by Galloway to place politics in the heartland of Britain and
give a voice to his Respect Party.
correspondent Alex McCann met up with Galloway a couple of weeks
prior to him going into the house. A man short in stature he greets
us with a firm handshake, a warm smile and sits down for his eight
interview of the day. As he explains the reason for his recent
status lies very much with the claims laid before him at the American
the American Senate. That changed everything. You know every cloud
has a silver lining and it made me more global if you like. I
had an audience, a level of attendance at my meetings. I had a
level of book sales. Everything doubled over night and I became
an overnight sensation after 30 years of trying"
the past three and half years George Galloway has made over 2000
speeches internationally which he compares to that of Bob Dylan
made 13 speeches in 11 days in America. The day I got back I did
a talk in London that night. It basically is never ending. It's
the Never Ending Tour like Bob Dylan" he chortles before
continuing "I was contacted by an agent at Clive Conway Productions
who do these sort of things and had put on such shows before with
Tony Benn and Alistair Campbell. They said people would pay money
to hear you and as I'd made almost 2000 speeches since 9/11, which
is definitely a world record, there's no politician who has ever
made 2000 speeches in three and a half years. Just work that out,
there's only 365 days in a year. And as I'd done all that for
free when they said "You know we could put you in a theatre
and charge for tickets and you could make some money" I said
let's try it and it's been really successful"
you imagine about Galloway rings true when you meet him in the
flesh. The all year round tan is in place, his suit is tailor-made
yet understated, but most of all it's when he speaks that you
immediately warm to him. Despite the seriousness of the issue's
he tackles daily he realises that politicians need to connect
with their constituents and in these modern times they still need
an element of entertainment
think people want a laugh for their money. The tour was not just
a soapbox where you get people's attention for a few minutes.
They certainly won't put money in your hat. You've got to leave
people thinking that they were entertained
a bit like being a footballer and playing at Old Trafford. You
have to have a basic ability and the rest is experience. If you
make as many speeches as me you know what works, what makes people
laugh, what images and what visions are necessary to conjure up
the picture you want to paint. And the more you do it, the better
you get at it really
I'm on stage it's all off the cuff, but I'm speaking about these
issues every day. It's not just the speeches, I've done 8 interviews
today starting at 8 this morning with Sky News and ending up this
evening with you. This means you're constantly practising what
you're saying, even though you're not consciously practising,
so the pictures that you want to paint are always at your fingertips."
why his fellow politicians do not connect with the public he's
of them are liars. I think that's the real principle problem.
We've got a political culture based on deception. As I shall say
tonight, "2 Labour MPs on the debate on ID Cards said "Well
if this a free vote tonight this ID Card bill would be defeated"
- that means that members of parliament are going to vote for
something they don't believe in because somebody told them to.
What kind of parliament is that? And what kind of MP votes for
something they don't agree with because somebody told them to?
That's how we got in this mess. People elect a parliament aught
to be entitled to expect the parliament they elect to honestly
tell them what they think and honestly act on the beliefs that
they genuinely have or we end up in the mess that we are in as
we have over the War in Iraq.
dare say that the point that these 2 men made over the ID Cards,
I dare say that the people who voted for the war would now say
"We knew it was a bad idea". So what, 100000 people
are dead because you voted for something that somebody told you
to even though you knew it was wrong. That's not any kind of parliament
that people deserve"
his reputation as enfant terrible of British Politics the reality
behind the press releases and pager speak of Blair's Labour paint's
a very different picture than you may imagine
I spoke on the 7th July, 2 or 3 hours after the bombings, one
of which was in my constituency and I'd actually been to the railway
station to see the emergency workers clearing up the bodies and
been to hospital and seen the medical workers covered in blood.
I went straight to the commons and made a speech and said, "This
is a crime of mass murder. The primary responsibility lies with
the criminals who did it, but it cannot be separated from the
War on Iraq and the Blair's foreign policy generally". The
response was ferocious, but afterwards a large number of MPs said
to me that actually they agreed with that, but they didn't say
so. 10 days later when the opinion polls said that 85% of people
agreed with me then they started saying that. So we have a parliament
with poodles with pagers, who get told what to say and what not
to say and how to vote or how not to vote. If they booked a telephone
box and put on a show like this, no one would come"
describing Britain's relationship with America as "the kind
of special relationship that Ms Lewinsky had with the former president...unequal,
unedifying, undignified and with one party constantly on their
knees", on his recent tour of America he found this shift
in public consciousness had started to align with the issues he
was talking about prior to the War in Iraq
almost miraculous that America has found it's way through the
fog of war propaganda, disinformation, Fox News and American Media
which is obsessed by the local, especially in this Hurricane Era.
American News not is basically just a big weather report, yet
despite that American people have found their way to the truth.
58% of them want to withdraw the forces now, 64% say that the
war was a mistake and 80% say that America cannot win the war.
This is almost unbelievable
you would have told me 2 ½ years ago that you will go to
America and speak to millions of people on TV, Radio, public meetings
and demonstrations and yours will be the majority position, I
would have said you were insane, but that is exactly what has
happened. Actually the main reason for that are the American dead.
It's a pity that the 100,000 Iraqi dead didn't do it, but the
2000 American dead is beginning to do it. Everyone of those 2000
dead is a local disaster story and because American News is all
local if you get 4 dead and 7 seriously wounded guys in Milwaukee
coming back in coffins or in wheel chairs it makes a big impact
in Milwaukee. There's an aggregation of all these local stories.
It's a bit like the Tom Cruise film Born On The Fourth Of July,
each soldier who comes back in a wheelchair or comes back in a
coffin is another nail in the political coffin of George W Bush.
America in the 60s and 70s, America put up with 58,000 dead soldiers
in Vietnam, but that's before was as 24/7 as it is now. The tolerance
of the American people for casualties is much less today than
it was then. They won't wait for 58,000 dead, as they are already
up in arms about the 2000 dead"
His tone changes from one of confidence to a quivering choking
kind as he acknowledges, "We've won the battle for public
opinion, but the politicians are unmoved. While were there British
Men are doomed to on dying, American Men are doomed to go on dying
and Iraqi's are doomed to go on dying. How do we change that?
I don't quite know". It's the first time during our conversation
that Galloway acknowledges he doesn't have all the answers and
the man who's confidence usually brims over to what the public
sometimes see as arrogance is genuinely affected by the political
all the furore over his entrance into the Big Brother House Galloway
is a political figure who has reached out to a wide group of people
through a series of face to face meetings across the whole country
is the fasted growing political organisation in Britain, it has
the busiest political website in Britain, www.respectcoallition.org.
I've been on the theatre tour and at the same time I did a parallel
tour of universities for Fresher's week. It was aimed the new
students turning up at university and for them because we're building
something for them called Youth Respect, which is going fantastically
well. We've got a Student supplement that got handed out over
the 15-20 universities' I've spoke at in the past 2 months. I'll
keep going on as long as my voice holds out"
for London Jim Fitzpatrick condemned his move go the show, "I
am not to surprised about it as he is a C-List politician with
a A-List ego" but with ratings for the show peaking at 7.6million
when Galloway entered the house it's nothing more than a chink
in his armour. After all how many politicians have reached out
with their policies to a mass audience such as this.
Photos: Karen McBride - www.karenmcbride.com
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